Photography: My Reading

The shutterbug is feeding voraciously on my blood.

I am happily bitten and wanted to share the best of what I have read on my Kindle or iPad, from local libraries, inter-library loans or friends’ shelves. Amazon has made a fine profit from me as it is so easy to cheaply and quickly purchase for my kindle – with just ‘one click’. Interestingly enough, the postie seems to be delivering, almost as often, many photography books to my door, at prices not possible from the local bookstore. I just ordered two more classic, recently reprinted, photography books while writing this post (for half the price if purchased from you know where); Bruce Barnbaum‘s Art of Photography: An Approach to Personal Expression (2011) 1994 and Galen Rowell‘s Inner Game of Outdoor Photography (2010) 2001 should arrive next week.

 

 

The books that have helped me reflect on ways of thinking/seeing creatively have been the most pleasurable reads. Bryan Peterson’sLearning to See Creatively (2003) and David duChemin’s, Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision (2009) are particularly engaging and one senses the photographer behind the words and images throughout the books. For example, a book about HDR photography, like Trey Ratcliff‘s A World of HDR (2009), works for me as it focuses more on the artistry than the tools or techniques. I note how often Trey’s personal interests, ideas and attitudes resound with me in both his books and blog. I am much more comfortable in this realm than the texts that are more scientific and technical, although some of these are particularly readable, like Christian Bloch’s, The HDRI Handbook which is more about the techniques, history and development of this particular style of photography. I found the  images in Rick Sammon’s, HDR Secrets for Digital Photographers (2010) stunning. These these three tomes about HDR nicely compliment each other.

I have really needed to learn about tools and techniques, history and the development of photography, especially the theoretical principles, as well as practicalities of the art. I like theory but struggled with this excellent book – Light Science and Magic – which I must revisit when it is updated and released later in the year. I suspect that my major area to develop is a more scientific understanding of light. Not surprisingly, I am more comfortable with a novel – like the brilliant Gail Jones’ Sixty Lights (2004) – which I could not recomend more highly for anyone in love with photography and beautiful imagery. Geoff Dyer is one of my favourite authors and The Ongoing Moment (2007) is a most unusual read. I cannot say that I enjoyed Roland BarthesCamera Lucida (1980) (either time I read it) but would recommend Susan Sontag On Photography (2001) 1977. I have barely skimmed the surface of Alan Trachtenberg‘s (Ed.) Classic Essays on Photography (1980) but have it by the bed. Michel Frizot’ massive,  A New History of Photography (1999) is just too big to read while horizontal but makes for interesting browsing at the kitchen table where it resides, overdue from the school library.

Of a very practical nature, Simon Stafford’s, Magic Lantern Guides: Nikon D700 (2008) is the best of the ‘guides’ to my new camera. I also dipped into Darrell Young’s Mastering the Nikon D700 (2010) which was useful too. Scott Kelby’sThe Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers (2010) really got me started with this fantastic Adobe software which has changed my workflow significantly. I should mention that his The Digital Photography Book: The Step-By-Step Secrets for How to Make Your Photos Look Like the Pros’! Volumes 1 – 3 (2009) is a great general introduction to digital photography. Joe McNally’s, The Moment It Clicks: Photography secrets from one of the world’s top shooters is also highly recommended along with any of Michael Freeman’s books, especially Perfect Exposure (2009) and The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos (2007). Some other really practical, useful introductory books are Bryan Peterson’s, Understanding Shutter Speed and Understanding Exposure.

 


Wildlife and macro photography is of particular interest to me. Of the twenty published Wildlife Photographer of the Year folios, I’ve borrowed about 8 or 9 and love seeing the evolution of the competition. Light on the Earth : Two Decades of Winning Images is a great overview of the competition. Jim Harmer‘s Improve Your Wildlife Photography (2010) is a brief read but I learnt a few tricks and tips. As I did from Harold Davis‘ Creative Close-ups.

Quite a few books are teetering on my bedside table. I have only skimmed Laurie Excell’s Composition: From Snapshots to Great Shots and François Brunet’s Photography and Literature (2009) but hope to read them before heading overseas next month with my camera bag.

I am particularly interested in the future of photography and just started Matthew Bamberg’s, New Image Frontiers; Defining the Future of Photography. At the moment his overview of fashion photography is interesting me more than I’d ever have expected.

There is little more satisfying than sensing your thinking and skills developing as a result of some concerted reading. I just need the evidence of some stunning photos in the next 12 months to prove it is not just book-learnin’.

 

What photography books can you recommend?

 

Slider image: cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo by hebedesign: http://flickr.com/photos/hebe/2216493433/

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